Spirituality Means More Sobriety for Teen Rehab Centers

A recent study indicated that spirituality could help teens in their recovery at teen rehab centers. Experts at The University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, and Baylor University performed the study, while the research itself took place at a facility called New Directions in Northeast Ohio.

Teen Rehab

New Directions apparently uses many forms of evidence-based modalities to facilitate sobriety in their patients, including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, group therapy, relapse prevention, and aftercare. Evidence-based practices are those that are based upon research and have been proven to bring health to patients in the fields of psychology and medicine.

New Directions also uses the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) 12-step recovery program. Although AA does not require its participants to possess any religious beliefs, it does utilize spiritual experiences. The study measured the frequency of spiritual experiences, which were not bound to any particular religious tradition, despite the fact that the adolescent patients identified themselves as having a certain religious position at intake. These were atheist, agnostic, unsure, non-denominational spiritual, and denominational religious. At the end of the two-month study, however, the teens report having more spiritual experiences. These spiritual experiences included feelings of a divine presence, inner peace or harmony, and selflessness and benevolence toward others.

Spiritual Practices

The participants in the study were either marijuana dependent or had a dependence on alcohol combined with another drug. They were interviewed within the first 10 days of treatment and again upon discharge. The research tools used to measure the success of treatment and frequency of spiritual experiences include urine samples, craving symptoms for the addictive substance, mental health symptoms, overall functioning, as well as the interviews which measured the frequency of spiritual experiences and religious behavior.

Although this study has not been compared to the treatment success at holistic rehabilitative centers, there has been a growing trend to weave spiritual practices in with mental health treatment. For instance, a holistic drug treatment center might include much more than drug counseling, therapy, family therapy, support groups, and life skill groups. To address other aspects of a teen’s growth, a holistic drug rehab center might also include:

  • Massage
  • Yoga
  • Deep Breathing
  • Acupuncture
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Reiki
  • Equine Therapy
  • Sweat Lodges
  • Adventure Therapy
  • Organic Food Choices
  • Physical Exercise
  • Sauna Use
  • Spiritual Exploration and Study


Holistic Teen Rehab Treatment 

At a holistic treatment center, yoga, meditation, and breathing consciously can be tools to use on a regular basis in order to address all the aspects of an adolescent’s recovery process – physical, physiological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Yoga is a practice, a form of exercise, which invites an integrated experience of body and mind. You can experience the effects immediately as well as over time. Meditation is also a very calming practice that can also produce healing experiences. Although meditation might be difficult at first, the challenge at the beginning is worth the rewards.

In this study specifically, the results indicate that changes in spiritual experiences correlate to better treatment outcomes. Specifically, the positive treatment outcomes included lower levels of drug occurrence, less self-centeredness, and higher frequency of positive social behavior. Furthermore, the daily spiritual experiences reported by the teens were feeling a divine presence, having a sense of inner peace, and a feeling of benevolence towards others.

The results of the study are not all that surprising considering that the various healing methods used at holistic treatment centers are meant to facilitate in teens deeper insight into the choices they are making for their life and encourage connection with a core self. Of course, these activities also help to promote physical well-being, a healthy self-image, productive coping mechanisms, and psychological health. When you combine the traditional methods of treatment for addiction, they can create lasting change.


As the study indicates, spiritual practices can help a teen continue with a life of sobriety long after treatment and, more importantly, facilitate living a life that is successful, joyful, and fulfilling.


Nauert, Rick, Ph.D. “Spirituality Improves Outcomes for Teens in Rehab | Psych Central News.” PsychCentral, 15 Nov. 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.